The prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan region is in Tehran for talks with Iranian officials, media reported on Monday, amid efforts to thwart a Sunni insurgent offensive north of Baghdad.
The unannounced visit by Kurdistan premier Nechirvan Barzani comes after Iranian leaders pledged support for Iraq’s central government against jihadist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Iran’s Mehr news agency said Barzani would meet the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, to discuss “the recent developments in Iraq”.
No more details were provided by Iranian media.
ISIL militants are said to have killed scores of Iraqi soldiers as they pushed towards the capital, a massacre that has drawn international condemnation and prompted diplomatic evacuations in Baghdad.
Alarmed by the ISIL advances, Iran has vowed to fight its “terrorism,” with President Hassan Rouhani even floating the idea of possible cooperation with arch-foe the United States, which also supports Baghdad against the fighters.
Although both sides have said no contact has been made, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the United States was preparing to launch direct talks with Tehran on how to halt the radical Sunni insurgency.
It is unclear what form of cooperation, if at all, would take hold between Tehran and Washington, but Iranian officials have also warned “any foreign military intervention” would only complicate the crisis.
Media reports have said Iran has sent military personnel to help bolster Iraqi forces, including near holy Shiite cities. Rouhani on Saturday denied this, but hinted that military advisers could be provided.